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Questions for an indie artist in the classical music genre. SHIZ’KA PIANIST
25-year-old Japanese virtuoso pianist SHIZ’KA has just released her debut album SCARLATTI SONATAS on her own label Kéze Records. It’s not often we hear about classical indie labels and indie classical artists so this will be a look at what it looks like to be an indie artist in the classical genre. ShiZ’ka moved to the USA from Japan 5 years ago and now resides in New York with her two-year-old son Emil and her husband, Edmund Arkus. She has an upcoming performance Scarlatti in the City, at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Wednesday, May 22 form 7-9PM. It is a celebration of her new album.
DM: What was it like to hear your recordings being played on the radio for the first time, on March 25, 2019 when WQXR Classical NYC premiered two of your pieces Sonata in C Major, K. 487 and Sonata in D Major, K. 33 from your debut album SCARLATTI SONATAS featuring 14 of his sonatas?
ShiZ’ka: It was wonderful. I believe that music should speak for itself and that was what I felt on hearing my playing put on the air.
DM: On May 7th at 8 am and 11 am WQXR Classical is giving away a copy of your CD SCARLATTI SONATAS with 2 sets of tickets for the concert at St. John’s Episcopal Church in the West Village on Wednesday, May 22 at 7PM. Tell us what the audience can expect at the concert?
ShiZ’ka: We are very fortunate to have Pleasant Valley Wines sponsoring this event. Every ticket holder will get a complimentary glass of champagne and we will have a toast to Scarlatti in the City, the concert title just before the concert begins. Domenico Scarlatti would be very happy to know that in 2019 his work is still being played! He passed away on 1757, this is 262 years later!
The first half of the program will be selections from my album, SCARLATTI SONATAS and what will the second half be Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op. 27 No. 1 and Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes Op. 13.
DM: Scarlatti has a vast collection of sonatas he composed, why did you pick those 14 sonatas and why Scarlatti as the solo composer on your debut album?
ShiZ’ka: When I started learning the Sonatas, my hands and fingers naturally played each piece as if I had played them all my life. It was a body, mind and soul connection for me. Hearing a recording of Elaine Comparone playing the K118 on the harpsichord impressed me so much that I made it a goal to play the Sonatas on the piano as brilliantly and as gracefully as Ms. Comparone did on the piece’s originally intended instrument.
DM: Tell us about the process of recording, picking a studio, an engineer and the mastering process.
ShiZ’ka: The hall was recommended by the engineer, Bill Siegmund. It is a beautiful hall. Working with Bill was nearly life changing because his quality of bringing out the best in artist was quite a learning experience. I believe he and I have the same direction in making a recording process feel as exciting as a live performance. This was complete team work.
DM: You studied jazz at Berkeley in Boston for a few months, how has studying jazz effected your playing classical music.
ShiZ’ka: It freed me from thinking about the format in music. It gave me an inspiration to create the sound that I want and especially since I had been taught that I must keep certain hand postures, it was hard for me to feel free. Working on jazz improvisation opened up my musicality and broke the feeling that when classical music is being played, only what is in the musical score is permitted.
DM: Who are some of your favorite classical composers and what other music do you like and listen to? Favorite artists?
ShiZ’ka: I have no favorites. It is the pieces that matter to me. I choose to play music that speaks to me and I want to convey my speech through it. I like to listen to all kinds of music. A couple of my favorite artists are Sting from The Police and the pianist Emil Gilels.
DM: How are you preparing for your upcoming concert at St. John’s Episcopal Church in the West Village on Wednesday May 22 at 7PM?
ShiZ’ka: I choose the time to practice, and other times I play the pieces in my head to go over my imaginations and to try to create new ideas in my head.
DM: You recently had a child with your husband, Edmund Arkus. Tell us how life and your career has changed since becoming a mother?
ShiZ’ka: My life has not changed very much. The only difference I see is that I want to make sure to give my child the best possible choices and that takes patience. I am trying to learn that things cannot be perfect and as I act on things, I develop a better approach. I believe that having a child has also created more enthusiasm in performing because the busier I am, the more energy I earn.
DM: What advice would you give a 13-year-old girl who is studying classical music who aspires to be a professional recording artist and performer?
ShiZ’ka: I would like to say to her to do what she needs to do and stay with her own truth for herself.
Thank you ShiZ’ka. Best of luck with your concert May 22!
For more about ShiZ’ka please visit ShiZkaPianist.com